Today I have guest blogger, Becky Marie, from “For This Season”. Becky shares from her own experiences in play based learning as a Montessori student and how she has incorporated those into her classroom and now as a homeschool mom.
Some of my earliest memories take place in the Montessori preschool I attended 28 years ago in Southern California. I remember the low shelves with trays of activities, carefully serving snacks to the other students, and the pomegranate tree growing in the play yard. Most of all I remember being expected to take initiative to learn. I’ve always had the desire to figure things out for myself. It was a personality trait that blossomed within the Montessori environment.
My mom was an elementary teacher, so I spent hours in her classroom every day playing with the various manipulatives. In reality, it was probably only a half hour at the end of each school day, but that little bit of time allowed me to continue to explore math through play. Most of all, I remember playing with pattern blocks and unifix cubes. Creating endless patterns on table tops and across the floor. The rules were simple; I was expected to keep myself occupied and clean up after myself (and not fight with my brother). I’m sure that I was much less responsible and obedient that I remember, but the Montessori foundation of child led, independent learning was reinforced daily.
Life continued to happen. I went through a fairly normal public school experience, continually encouraged to pursue my interests. I went to college, earning a degree in Chemistry and then found myself teaching high school chemistry. At least once a week, I was pulling blocks, legos, or bouncing balls out of the cupboard to illustrate a concept to my students. My students not only enjoyed class more, they developed a deeper understanding of chemistry through our hands on, play based activities than from any of my lectures.
A few years later when I started looking into doing preschool at home with my oldest, I saw references to Montessori pop up all over the place. Initially I pursued the Montessori approach because it was a familiar term. I was a Montessori kid and I think I turned out pretty good! After using the Montessori approach for the past three years, I think incorporating play based learning is very important for developing a wide range of academic skills. Watching my boys play both with classic Montessori objects and traditional baby toys, I see them learning and exploring very fundamental concepts like gravity, relative volume, and magnetism to name a few.
I’m a checklist kind of person. When I first considered homeschooling, I figured when it was time to start “real” school when the boys turned 6 or 7 our setup would be very similar to the public school experience. Even after reading dozens of homeschool blogs that all say that homeschooling doesn’t have to be formal, I still expected we would be. When Bebop started reading, I suddenly realized how much he actually understood without any overly formal lessons. I continue to be amazed daily how much my boys learn through play.
The Montessori approach has been a great fit in our home. Like anything homeschool related, each kid is different and each parent is different. If this doesn’t sound like a good fit for your family, Kerry’s “Approaches to Homeschooling” is a great resource to help you find the right one for you.
Becky Marie blogs about her journey to make intentional choices to create the life they desire for their family. Specifically, she writes about homeschooling, parenting, dairy allergies, and recipes. You can read more at ForThisSeason.com.
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